Karma was kind to District Swifties feeling spurned by their favorite “Anti-Hero” artist — at least for drinking purposes. With the somber news of Swift’s new Midnights album tour skipping over D.C. in 2023, a surge of bars brighten up fans’ moods this holiday season with Swift-centric decor, drinks, and parties.
Navy Yard’s sophisticated wine bar Maxwell Park kicked off the craze with a #BejeweledChristmas pop-up bar partially inspired by Swift. Slinging of-the-moment espresso martinis, glühwein, and boozy “Cardigan” egg nog shooters to a “Bejeweled”-themed backdrop, the Swift takeover debuted November 23 and runs through December 31 (closed on Christmas). The 32-year-old songwriter is also the star of Union Pub’s 5th New Year’s Eve Formal Kegger (Midnights Edition), complete with all-you-can-drink beer from self-served keg stations and life-size Swift cutouts. The Capitol Hill bar’s year-end party got its start with a Britney Spears theme in 2017, and Swift was also the chosen celebrity headliner in 2019. For another one-night tribute to Swift, consider WunderGarten’s A Very Merry Swiftmas party on Saturday, December 3.
Meanwhile, the Wharf’s modern Vietnamese restaurant Moon Rabbit celebrates DC Cocktail Week (November 28 to December 4) with an entire menu devoted to the pop icon. Turns out chef Kevin Tien is a diehard Swifty, as is Moon Rabbit’s newly appointed beverage director Ashley Mac. (Moon Rabbit embraced another pop culture phenomenon this summer with a takeout menu paying homage to Hulu’s smash-hit The Bear.)
“I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan long as I can remember, even before her first album came out,” Tien tells Eater. At 18, he remembers pushing for her music as the playlist at a sushi restaurant he worked at.
Swift song lyrics inspire Moon Rabbit drinks like a “Play Stupid Games, with Stupid Prizes” (goji berry-infused Patron Reposado, Chapman’s apple brandy, pumpkin puree, gooseberry) and “Wildfire Lies” (Gentleman Jack, salted and toasted sesame amaro blend, bitters). There’s also a “F.U.T.M” — a jab at Ticketmaster’s epic tour sale fiasco — featuring Republic Restoratives Civic vodka and soursop lime juice. Tien, however, was lucky to score a ticket to her Friday, June 2 concert in Chicago. “Funny enough,” he adds, the show happens to be the day before the James Beard Foundation’s annual awards in the same city.
For Maxwell’s sparkle-tacular transformation, the bar turned to a top pop-up bar consultant Adriana Salame Aspiazu. She’s (temporarily) dazzled locations across the city for nearly a decade, starting with Drink Company’s Shaw pop-up bar in 2015. Its over-the-top Miracle on 7th Street, Game of Thrones, and cherry blossom themes commanded lines upwards of five hours.
After working with Maxwell’s owner and sommelier Brent Kroll last year for the holidays, she took off to find inspiration again. Taking in Swift’s new video “Bejeweled,” Salame immediately knew that its shimmer, shine, and style screamed Christmas. From there, it wasn’t a leap to involve a royal twist, based off the holiday classic Christmas Prince. The late Queen Elizabeth loved Christmas too, she points out.
Rhinestones touch nearly every corner, and glittering snowflakes sit somewhere between elegance and kitsch. While Salame confesses the decor errs on the side of extra, no one has ever accused the holiday season (or TSwift) from holding back.
“One lyric includes ‘sapphire tears’,” she notes, so the whole place gets an additional shot of icy-blue frost. Her goal: a twirl in every direction is “enveloping yourself in this jewel-encased world.”
The playlist, naturally, leans heavily on Swift’s hits, but Mariah Carey lovers won’t be disappointed either. The soundtrack mingles holiday classics with Midnights and Lover album hits.
Kroll channels both Swift and beach-y holiday vibes to come up with the drink menu. Themed cocktails feature the “Midnight Rain” (espresso martini) or the “Fearless” (an oolong tea-smoked Old Fashioned). Swift might especially go for the “You Need to Calm Down” — a riff on mulled wine he likens to a “winter” sangria. It brings together red wine, amaretto, triple sec, lemon, and an orange rind.
There’s also a quartet of shooters, including the “Cardigan” eggnog shot with Don Q rum, nutmeg, and cream. A portion of the peppermint shot goes to Girls on the Run, a nonprofit supporting girls’ empowerment. Besties can also order a container of spiked whipped cream for a cool $30.
Its newly appointed chef Bart Hutchins looked to dips, spreads, and festive holiday eats for the food menu.
“We do bang-up cheese and charcuterie spreads,” he says. He says the creamy Buffalo crab dip and smoked trout dip, both served alongside lavash bread, pair well with the drinks. Rounding out the menu: truffled grilled cheese, an enormous single pig in a blanket, and a puff pastry-encrusted mushroom Wellington for vegetarians.
Maxwell Park is first come, first served — but a $100 welcome drink-and-snack package is available for those looking to skip the line and enjoy a private outdoor heated hut.